Don’t Pave the Cowpath on Your ERP Implementation

By Cody Marshall | December 8, 2017

Don’t pave the cowpath on your erp implementation

Don't pave the cowpath on ERP Implementations.

Okay, I’m no expert on cows or whether they are able to find the path of least resistance, so hang with me on this one.

I do know that humans will not naturally challenge existing paradigms and ask questions like:

  • Why do we do it this way?
  • Is there a better way?
  • How are others doing it?

Instead, we will often go on, performing tasks in a way that is neither efficient nor effective, simply because “We’ve always done it that way.” I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard that during the course of a system implementation or process improvement initiative. If you do have workers that ask these questions and strive for improvements, first, congratulations. Second, earmark those individuals as key contributors to your system implementation.

If you’ve made the decision to implement an ERP system (or CRM or any business solution), do yourself a favor and avoid the temptation to recreate old processes on the new system, thus “paving the cowpath.”

Why you should care about recreating old processes

  • The way it has always been done doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best way. It’s good to challenge this assumption. Simply asking the question often generates healthy dialog.
  • The new system should bring to bear best practices that will mean change for your processes.
  • Deviating from that means customizing the system to suit your old habits, which can be expensive.

How to avoid paving the cowpath

  • Your team
    • Choose team members for your project that have visionary tendencies and will not be bound to old way
    • Coach them – deliver the message that you want to challenge existing processes and look for new/better ways of doing things
  • Consultants
    • Ask your system implementer about their process, methodology, and how they will facilitate these improvements.
    • Don’t call it an “ERP Project” or a “CRM Project”. Think about it and speak about as if it’s a process improvement initiative.

Additional Caution

Protect your secret sauce – sometimes you will want to recreate existing processes in the new system, even if that means customizing. If you have a process or function that creates differentiation for you, the new system should not take that away. Just be thoughtful about what those are. End users will usually ask to replicate what they’re familiar with. Help them identify differentiators and be open-minded about everything else.

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